Despite selling players like there is no tomorrow in the last two transfer windows and being second from bottom of the table both before and after this game our visitors have not tasted defeat in their last three games against us.
The Bees drew at Villa Park last season and did the same yesterday. This result has put as huge a dent in our confidence and has placed similar doubts upon our promotion prospects as had our 1-1 home draw against Brentford last September.
We need to approach home games with a view to winning them rather than to not losing them. The onus is on us to crate chances and to put those chances away. Playing two forwards up front would be a good place to start. We were poor in the first half and were even worse in the second.
Whilst our overall performance yesterday was unacceptable the result was no less than our visitors deserved and they were clearly the better team. We were fortunate to end the game with a point. They may still be in the bottom three but they were very well organised, looked by some way the most likely of the two teams to break the deadlock and comfortably handled a team that are only three points and five places above them.
Brentford dictated the course of the game all too easily. They bossed the midfield, dealt comfortably with what little threat we produced up front and unlike us produced good scoring opportunities aplenty. They had a plan and we didn’t. They were well organised where we were not. We have the better squad on paper but it did not look like it on Saturday!
Steve Bruce admitted in his post-game interview with BBC Radio WM that we “didn’t play with the energy or the spark that was required”. He also admitted that he “should have done better and freshened us up”. He went on to add that “at 3 – 4 o’clock yesterday (Davis, Green and Onomah) weren’t going to play but wanted to play this morning, unfortunately all three of them have come off injured and looked jaded and tired”. I would have hoped that Hogan, Snodgrass and Lansbury had also wanted to play having had a less arduous week. He added looking forward to our next game, “We’ll be better than what we were today”. We will need to be!
We dropped too many points at home last season and have now dropped 4 points from our first 3 home games of this new season. We gave ourselves too much ground to make up on the teams that ended up battling for promotion last season due to our early run of disappointing results. We are now 10 points behind leaders Cardiff, 8 points behind Leeds, 7 points behind Wolves and 4 points behind 6th placed Middlesbrough who we play next Tuesday. We are currently 18th in the league and have only 6 points from our first 6 games of the season. Our previous manager left when the club occupied 19th place having taken 10 points from the first 11 league games of last season and having been 10 points off the play-off places. Say no more!
The 2 points that we dropped yesterday need to be made up sooner rather than later. We cannot afford to be cut adrift as we were last season with too much ground to make up on the promotion contenders. The visit of Boro provides us with an early opportunity to make some amends. They won 3-0 at Bolton yesterday to take themselves into the last of the play-off positions. Given that, a draw might have just been acceptable before we drew our second home game of the season yesterday although we do really need to win home games against the clubs that we hope to be competing with for a promotion place at the end of this season. We now cannot afford to drop further home points against Boro. A defeat on Tuesday would take the gap between the two clubs up to 7 points after only 7 games but if we perform anything like we did yesterday it is hard to see us making up any ground on them.
My player ratings from a game that gave us a stark and unpleasant reminder of how we fared last season are:
Sam Johnstone – 8 – MOTM – Quite simply we would have lost this game without him. Did very well to block a 57th minute Clarke shot with his right leg after the player had run into the box having been put clear. Parried and then held a Barbet free kick from the edge of the box on the hour mark. Did well to turn a 72nd minute Watkins shot past the far post and pushed a 76th minute shot from the edge of the box from the same player past his left-hand post.
James Bree – 6 – Did well enough at the back.
James Chester - 6 – Wanted too long to bring an 85th minute Snodgrass cross that had flown above Hogan to him under control which allowed Bentley the chance to smother his eventual effort.
John Terry – 6 – Made a 19th minute mistake that presented the ball to an opponent on the edge of the box but his blushes were spared when Whelan cleared the danger.
Neil Taylor – 6 – Another steady defensive display.
Ahmed Elmohamady – 4 – Did not make enough of an impression on the game. Headed a cross from Green well over on 52 minutes and had 79th minute appeal for a penalty rejected when Dalsgaard took the ball before he went down.
Josh Onomah – 6 – The best of our midfield by some distance yesterday before he left the field on the hour due to injury. Snatched at a nice 9th minute Green cross hitting the ball wide of the post.
Glenn Whelan – 4 – Needed to try playing the ball forward instead of behind him more often.
Conor Hourihane – 5 – Did not get forward often enough and would have benefited from having Lansbury alongside him in my opinion.
Andre Green – 6 – Substituted on the hour due to a hamstring injury and he will be missed. Dropped too deep at times but he was not alone in that and he did play a couple of decent balls into the box.
Keinan Davis– 6 – Held the ball up well when he had the opportunity to do so but he was left very isolated up front, short of service and played with no support alongside him. Hit a 21st minute shot from the edge of the box that went just wide of the post. Onomah found him well inside the box on 26 minutes but he sliced the ball into the side netting.
Robert Snodgrass – 6 – Replaced Green on 60 minutes and showed signs of good things to come from him in the future.
Scott Hogan – 5 - Replaced Davis on 60 minutes. Made a good run inside the box and was found by a ball from Onomah on 67 minutes but his attempt to square the ball from close range but a tight angle was intercepted by Bentley’s left hand at the near post. He needs to start and to have another striker playing alongside him.
Gabby Agbonlahor – 4 - Replaced the injured Onomah on 71 minutes. I could not help but think that the creativity of Lansbury or the running of Bjarnason would have been a better option. He made no noticeable positive impact upon the game.
Up the Villa!